HS-14 Chargers Plaque
A carefully carved and hand painted plaque the HS-14 Chargers.
14 inches in length.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 14 (HSC-14) “Chargers” is an aviation unit of the United States Navy based at Naval Air Station North Island, California (USA). HSC-14 was established as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 14 (HS-14) in 1984 and was redesignated HSC-14 in 2013. The squadron is equipped with the Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk.
HS-14 was established on 10 July 1984 at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California and originally flew the Sikorsky SH-3H “Sea King” helicopter. Assigned to Carrier Air Wing TWO from 1984 to 1993, the Chargers deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger. In 1989, while deployed off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, HS-14 participated in one of the largest rescue operations ever by a deployed helicopter squadron when they rescued 37 Vietnamese refugees who were trapped aboard a foundering boat.
In 1991, HS-14 participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During Desert Storm, the Chargers participated in an operation that resulted in the capture of four Iraqi commandos on a small island off the coast of Kuwait. Additionally, HS-14 played an important role in the destruction of one Iraqi gunboat and two anti-shipping mines. In 1992, the squadron deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch to the Northern Persian Gulf and to the coast of Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope. In December 1992, the squadron surged to support the first eleven days of Operation Restore Hope with such determination and efficiency that the operational commander wrote, “without HS-14, the first ten days of RESTORE HOPE simply could not have happened.”
In May 1993, the squadron moved 175 men and women, seven aircraft, and all their support equipment from San Diego to Mayport, Florida in four days. The cross-country move was executed to embark on board USS Constellation for her transit around South America to San Diego. During this transit, the squadron participated in coordinated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with several South American navies.
In October 1993, the Chargers began the transition from the Sea King to the SH-60F Seahawk helicopter. Soon afterward, military downsizing dictated the decommissioning of HS-12, a sister squadron in Japan. For HS-14, this meant an accelerated transition schedule and training program to complete a homeport change to Atsugi, Japan by October 1994. The squadron’s progress in this endeavor was rewarded with a personal visit from then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Frank B. Kelso.
HS-14 executed back-to-back deployments to the Persian Gulf in 1998 and 1999, participating in Operation Southern Watch. Additionally, the squadron began its annual participation in the bilateral exercises Foal Eagle and ANNUALEX. In 1998, the Chargers made USS Kitty Hawk their permanent sea-based home, traveling to Hawaii aboard USS Independence in July for the complicated cross-deck move.
In early 2002, the HS-14 supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by deploying a detachment on board USS Kitty Hawk. During this deployment, Kitty Hawk served as a mobile staging base for elite United States Army special operations units. In March 2003, as the situation in Iraq escalated, HS-14 and Kitty Hawk received orders to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Chargers were assigned to provide a naval special warfare (NSW) capability to forward operating bases in support of SEAL operations. The squadron also affected the recovery of a CVW-5 strike fighter pilot who was downed in hostile territory.
After returning from the Persian Gulf, HS-14 participated in several training and operational deployments, including the historic PULSE EX 2004. This exercise represented a shift in naval policy from set “work-up” periods and deployment schedules to a rapid-responding, surge capable force. During PULSE EX the Navy deployed six carriers simultaneously around the world to demonstrate the projection of power available under the new doctrine. It was during this deployment that an S-3B Viking from CVW-14 crashed on the remote and rugged island of Kita Iwo Jima. HS-14 deployed two Seahawks within three hours to Iwo Jima to conduct search and recovery operations. Working closely with United States Air Force Pararescuemen from 33rd Rescue Squadron, the cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the frigate USS Gary, HS-14 was able to locate the wreckage, salvage parts of the aircraft and return the remains of the Viking crew. This accomplishment was noted in a personal letter from President George W. Bush to the wife of one of the fallen aviators.
In the fall of 2004, an HS-14 detachment deployed two HH-60H helicopters on board USNS GySgt. Fred W. Stockham in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines. The overall effort proved to be a success and established the HS community as a leading participant in the Global War on Terrorism. In the first week of December 2004, typhoons Imbudo and Namando struck the Philippines, causing extensive damage. Helicopters of HS-14 provided humanitarian assistance. The squadron was able to provide immediate relief to the most stricken victims of the typhoons and rescue over 100 refugees. At the same time, another HS-14 detachment was deployed on board the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes to support several 7th Fleet ASW exercises, operating in conjunction with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Additionally, the squadron operated a third detachment out of Atsugi, Japan.
After being deployed or detached eleven out of twelve months in 2004, the HS-14 operated from Kitty Hawk in January 2005, operating off the southeast coast of Japan. In February 2005, the squadron deployed for routine training operations in the Okinawa Fleet Operations Areas. Simultaneously, HS-14 deployed a one-plane detachment and 18 personnel to the destroyer USS Cushing to operate with Destroyer Squadron 15 in bilateral ASW operations with the South Korean Navy.
After some rest and relaxation in Hong Kong, Kitty Hawk headed north toward Korea for Operation Foal Eagle. HS-14 spent most of the year deployed and participating in exercises such as Talisman Saber, Orange Crush, JASEX, SHAREM, MULTI-SAIL, and ANNUALEX.
June 2006 marked the start of another eventful summer deployment aboard Kitty Hawk for HS-14. Before deploying, HS-14 earned the “Golden Wrench Award” for having the most outstanding maintenance department in the airwing. This marked the third time the Chargers had taken home the award, more than any other squadron in CVW-5. With maintenance operating at full potential and the flight crews ready to fight, the Chargers were ready to start the cruise.
The deployment began with a short port call to Otaru, Japan, a suburb of Sapporo on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. After Otaru, Kitty Hawk’s Carrier Strike Group Five joined up with Carrier Strike Group Nine, led by USS Abraham Lincoln, and the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, along with Marine Corps, Air Force, and various foreign militaries for the largest operation in over a decade, Valiant Shield. This exercise involved more than 30 ships, 280 aircraft, and 22,000 sailors, marines, and airmen, and focused on the strike groups’ ability to maintain a very robust air strike schedule while being attacked by multiple submarine and surface threats. HS-14 performed incredibly, scoring many simulated torpedo attacks on the American, Australian, and Singaporean attacking subs, while allowing almost no attacks against the carrier Kitty Hawk.
While defending the carrier from simulated submarine attacks, HS-14 also had a dedicated Combat Search and Rescue detachment working out of Guam. This detachment focused on joint operations with HS-2 while conducting NSW insertions and extractions. The detachment also gave the crews a chance to learn different techniques when operating in low light, tactical environments. HS-14 worked with several other units from different services and countries during the remainder of the year. Further exercises included “Allies in the Outback”, ANNUALEX, and an Atsugi CSAR Detachment.